Are Manti Te’o’s marketing opportunities sacked?

Scott Kitun/The Medillian

Scott Kitun/The Medillian

Even with the massive controversy – and mystery – surrounding Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o and the death of his fake girlfriend, his draft stock and marketing potential may be largely unchanged, according to analysts.

Unlike the NBA, most incoming rookies in the NFL don’t get millions of dollars in pre-draft endorsements.

“In the NFL, you really have to earn it,” said Darren Rovell, a sports business reporter at ESPN.

Rovell estimates that Te’o probably lost between $350,000 and $500,000 in pre-draft endorsements from companies such as Sprint, Subway and Electronic Arts that are traditionally quick to sign athletes. Subway frequently uses athletes to promote its healthy fare and Te’o was one of the leading candidates to grace the cover of the NCAA Football 14 video game.

“Normally, there are pre-draft deals from companies that are aggressive in this space,” Rovell said.

Even if Te’o doesn’t tumble in the NFL draft – he was projected as a top 10 pick by both ESPN and CBSSports.com – his marketing potential is hamstrung, at least in the short term.

“If there were a marketing draft, Manti Te’o was a top 3 pick,” said Darin David, marketing executive at the Marketing Arm. “But now if you were planning to sign Te’o to an endorsement deal, you are going to have to tap the brakes on that.”

Te’o may wind up earning his lost endorsements back, but the damage to his reputation is already too big for teams to ignore, Rovell said.

“The Tiger Woods scandal doesn’t compare, the Lance Armstrong scandal doesn’t compare to this,” he said.

The good news for Te’o is that fans can be both forgetful and forgiving.

“It’s hard to have perspective on those stories, especially in the social media age,” said Dan Lobring, senior director of public relations at Revolution, a Chicago-based sports marketing firm. “Fans, in general, can have a short memory span. It all depends on what he can do on the field, if he apologizes and seeks forgiveness.”

As for Te’o’s draft potential, Andrew Brandt, ESPN NFL business analyst and the director of the sports law department at Villanova, doesn’t believe the scandal will greatly effect Te’o’s selection.

“Obviously talent is most important in draft evaluations but teams will note other issues: medical, issues with drugs, arrests, an agent that’s difficult to deal with, etc.,” Brandt said in an email.

Te’o could run into trouble is if teams are worried about his mental health. Te’o plays middle linebacker, the leader of the defense. If Te’o’s teammates question his leadership and mental state, they will lose faith in him. Brandt he said doesn’t think Te’o’s reputation is quite that tarnished but it could happen.

“The time may come up when a team is on-the-clock and may have to decide between two players,” Brandt said. “The decision maker may allow this to enter his mind in making a tough call about evenly rated players.”

Like Rovell, Brandt, who was formerly a player agent, said he has never seen anything quite as bizarre as the situation Te’o is in now.

The surprising aspect of the Te’o controversy is that he didn’t have any of those issues prior to this scandal. The trials Te’o overcame, the death of both his grandmother and girlfriend in the same week, were the feel-good story of the college football season. The lore surrounding Te’o was instrumental in his campaign for the Heisman Trophy, where he came in second.

This week, Deadspin.com discovered that his deceased girlfriend did not exist.

“He was less than truthful with the media,” Rovell said. “He didn’t mention that he hadn’t met her. At the very least, he was very dishonest.”

Marketing expert David agrees that harm has been done.

“Maybe Te’o was just an innocent victim in this, but regardless, his story just doesn’t read the same anymore.His marketing value was tied as much to his story as his play.”

Non-cash gifts key to Walter and Connie Payton Foundation success

By way of gifts, pledges and grants, the Walter and Connie Payton Foundation has nearly doubled its annual revenues since 2008.

Despite a struggling economy and dramatic reduction in government grants, the foundation has continued to grow and expand its charitable contributions annually, according to the organization’s financial filings.

“We know that everybody is feeling the economic pinch, but our donors seem to still be driven to support our city’s children, and that is beautiful,” assistant to Connie Payton, Kelly Woods, said.

From 2005 through 2008, the foundation generated $1.40 million in total revenue. They did so through federal grants totaling $780,000 and by coordinating toy drives throughout the city and suburbs.

However, 2009 turned out to be a banner year for the foundation as it generated $1.26 million, a whopping 42 percent jump over the prior year. And, the foundation did so despite receiving a 20 percent reduction in government grants from the $250,000 received in 2008.

* 2011 reported revenue subject to restatement

* 2011 reported revenue subject to restatement

“We really focused on fundraising events. We quadrupled our event fundraising in 2009,” Jarrett Payton added.
The $57,072 that the foundation raised in 2009, through two events: “The Sweetness Run” and “Sweetness Games Night,” was a 21 percent increase over the prior year.

But, the key contribution to the successful 2009 fiscal year for the foundation was its dramatic increase in non-cash gifts. The foundation more than tripled the $282,103 non-cash gifts received in 2008 to $968,129.

“I would say that we really began to get involved in the schools throughout the city and held more fundraising events, but the biggest contribution we got was when my mother [Connie Payton] went on to the Dr. Oz show,” Jarrett Payton said.

Connie Payton first represented the foundation in October 2006 on the “Meet The Peete’s” radio show, hosted by Rodney and Robinson Peete. Since then, the Payton family has been on “The Dr. Oz Show”, hosted by Dr. Mehmet Oz, each October to celebrate Cancer Awareness Month. “Meet The Peete’s” and “The Dr. Oz Show” are both produced by Oprah Winfrey’s Chicago-based Harpo Inc.

“I remember the weeks following Dr. Oz in 2007, we were getting so many calls that we had to hire another assistant,” Kelly Woods remembered.

From 2009 to 2011, the Walter and Connie Payton Foundation has maintained annual revenues of approximately $1.3 million, most of which still comes from noncash gifts and contributions.

“To date, my family’s foundation has raised over $5 million in toys, grants and school supplies to help Chicago’s underprivileged children,” Jarrett Payton said.

Star of the week: St. Patrick’s Royale Ewing

Scott Kitun/The Medillian

St. Patrick High School begins the 2012 basketball season with its annual Max Kurland Thanksgiving Tournament and all eyes are on the Shamrock’s star senior guard, Royale Ewing.

Ewing is a 6’1 guard from the Near West Side neighborhood of Chicago and he is currently ranked by espn.com as one of the top 25 players in Chicago.

“If I didn’t choose to go to St. Patrick, I would probably go to Whitney Young. But, I think St. Pat’s offers me the best chance to achieve my dreams.” Ewing said.

Ewing has played competitive basketball since he was 5 years old said his dream has always been to play college basketball and make it to the NBA.

Additionally important to Ewing is academics and that is another reason he left some of his friends and enrolled at St. Patrick High School. Although as Ewing said, “I work hard at school, but I really don’t like science class. That isn’t my favorite subject.”

Last season, St. Patrick lost in the regional round of the Illinois state playoffs to Maine South 43-30.

St. Patrick head coach Mike Bailey said prior to the Max Kurland Tournament that his team is predicated on great defense, but that Royale is definitely the team’s most versatile playmaker.

Ewing, who plays for the Chicago Rising Stars 16U AAU team in the offseason, has played against some of the best players in the Midwest and routinely impresses the scouts with his smooth shooting touch.

At the 3rd Annual Nike Spring Showdown in Merriville, Indiana, Ewing led his Chicago Rising Stars team to the Gold Division Title by scoring 20 points.

His strong play during the AAU circuit has resulted in much recruiting buzz.

“I am currently being recruited by Illinois, Purdue and Xavier. But, I haven’t decided where I want to play yet,” Ewing said.

All of the attention has not distracted Ewing from preparing for his final Shamrock season. He is focused on helping his team move beyond the state’s regional round. But, Ewing said, “First thing though, we have to win our games here in conference.”

Ewing got his 2012 season off to a great start in the first game of the Max Kurland Tournament, by scoring 14 points and advancing his Shamrock team past their first round match-up, Mather High School by 40 points.

“I had a pretty good game shooting tonight,” Ewing said. “But, I want to beat Oak Park Saturday in the tournament finale. They beat us last year and I think we got them this year.”

St. Patrick’s Max Kurland Thanksgiving Tournament

Scott Kitun/The Medillian

The 2012 Max Kurland Tournament kicked off Monday night with a bang for the St. Patrick Shamrocks.

The Shamrocks defeated Mather High School 81-42, in a breakneck paced game. Led by shamrock senior Royale Ewing, the team began the game by making its first eight shots and stifling the Mather offense by hustling to loose balls from both ends of the court.

“We have given a great effort so far and I expect it to continue throughout the tourney and season,” Coach Bailey said after the game.

The Shamrocks added to their success Wednesday by again relying on the hot shooting of senior guard Ewing, while handling Phillips 74-43 in a very similar style game to their victory on Monday against Mather.

The Max Kurland Thanksgiving Basketball Tournament has been a highlight of the St. Patrick High School season since the great former coach left the sidelines in 1994.

Every year, St. Patrick hosts a Thanksgiving tournament that is usually highlighted by a few marque teams, such as perennial powerhouse Fenwick or last season’s tournament winner, Oak Park River Forest.

The Max Kurland Tournament is a five day, five-team tournament that crowns a winner based on the team that has the best record at the end of the week.

“This tournament is named after the legendary coach that I replaced. It means a lot to our boys, our alum and most of all to me.” St. Patrick’s head coach Mike Bailey said.

Max Kurland, who devoted 38 years to coaching basketball at St. Patrick High School, was elected into the Illinois High School Coaches Hall of Fame in 1980.

Kurland’s name is synonymous with St. Patrick High School and since he retired in 1994, his impact on the school has remained.

“I was an assistant coach under Kurland for years and I still think of him as a mentor to this day.” St. Patrick Principal Joe Schmidt said.

Following a break from play to enjoy Thanksgiving, play will continue Friday at 7:30 p.m. when St. Patrick plays against Hyde Park.

Local bar brings South Bend to Notre Dame grads

Scott Kitun/The Medillian

Notre Dame enters this Saturday’s rivalry game against University of Southern California ranked number 1 for the first time in the BCS era.

This game marks a reversal of fortune for both teams. Southern Cal, now unranked, began this season ranked number 1 in the preseason polls, while Notre Dame remained unranked.

Here at The Temple Bar, an official Notre Dame Chicago bar, located at 3001 N. Ashland Avenue, Irish fans are lined up out the door, clad from head-to-toe in blue and gold.

“The USC game is always the biggest of the year for us, but given that a win here puts us into the title game, makes this the biggest game of my life.” Logan Square resident, Tim Madden said.

The Irish and Trojans have played 82 times dating back to 1926. The Irish currently lead the overall matchup with 43 victories in the rivalry. However, the Irish have managed just one win, in 2010, against the USC Trojans over the past ten meetings.

Headlined by their Heisman Trophy candidate linebacker, Manti T’eo, the Irish are competing against a Southern Cal team that is currently unranked and playing without their star quarterback Matt Barkley, who is out with an injury.

Prior to kickoff, Irish fans huddled around the TV monitors singing the school song and cheering on the players as they entered the field.

The Temple Bar manager, George Zak described his experience at the bar as “the tale of two bars”. Temple is typically a low key Irish pub, but football Saturday, it turns into a real college bar.

“Its like this every weekend. These fans are rabid. You would swear we are at the game live the way these guys are screaming.” Zak said.

“I think we are always a little worried when we go against teams like USC,” Notre Dame graduate and Bucktown resident, Chase Riddle said.

“It’s like we aren’t entirely confident, until the defense gets a stop or we throw some point on the board.”

With a score of 16 – 10 at the half, Irish fans are really beginning to get into the game here at Temple.

This is the last game of the season for Notre Dame and their faithful understand that a win here today will most likely result in the Irish maintaining their number 1 BCS ranking, which would ensure that they play in the Discover BCS National Championship in Miami, Fla. on January 7.

“Trust me. We all know what this means, we all hear the overrated chants and this would be a loud response by the Irish. Undefeated and number 1, baby.” Madden said.

After a second half push by the Trojans, quieting some of the Irish fans at Temple, the Irish finally began to pull away in the fourth quarter with a barrage of field goals.

“I always get a little nervous in the second half. It’s like we can’t just lock the door. We always leave it a little bit open.” Riddle said.

After waiting 19 years, the Notre Dame fans couldn’t wait another minute. Shots began to pour and sounds of “Victory March”, the school’s fight song, rang out with minutes still on the game clock.

While Notre Dame will have to wait until BCS Selection Sunday on December 2 to punch their official ticket to Miami, today’s 22 – 13 win over USC makes Notre Dame a virtual lock for the BCS National Championship.

“Notre Dame is back. We earned it and now we’re number 1.” Riddle said.

Crab cakes and football

Hold your criticism Big Ten fans. This week when Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany announced the addition of Rutgers and Maryland to the conference, there was an immediate backlash across the Twitter universe.

The general sentiment being that while conferences such as the SEC are adding championship caliber teams like Texas A&M to their conference roster, the Big Ten doesn’t seem to be adding much with their recent additions.

The fact is, most Big Ten fans were hoping for a Notre Dame-like team, if any, was to be added to the conference.

There is no question that the Big Ten Conference is feeling a pinch as the top tier teams are defecting for the SEC. Delany is doing everything he can to avoid falling into the same traps that the Big East Conference did.

That means strategically selecting teams to bolster the conference roster and not just grabbing defectors on the cheap, as the Big East has done.

Delany is very attuned to the conference building process. After having seen the Big East crumble, despite having numerous championship level basketball teams and great mid-level talent across the conference, it wasn’t enough.

To be a competitive college conference in the future, you must have strong football teams with at least two powerhouse teams, like Southern Cal and Oregon or Alabama and Louisiana State.

Undoubtedly, the Big Ten will always hang its collective hat on the University of Michigan, one of the most profitable athletic programs in the country.

Ohio State, Wisconsin and Michigan State also contribute a lot to the conference but more is needed if the conference wants to continue to compete for titles and media dollars.

Conference commissioner Delany is not going to admit that the major contributing factor to adding Rutgers is the East Coast media shares. Obviously, football and basketball championships aren’t exactly selling points for Rutgers.

College fans do not want to hear about media shares when it comes to conference expansion. In fact, it is probably the worst part of college sports, the inevitable eclipse of sport and business.

That said, I believe the Big Ten may have acquired the next gem of college sports, in Maryland.

Say what? Maryland? Yes. Maryland.

Maryland developed NCAA championship credibility in basketball under coach Gary Williams and as the Wedding Crashers movie-line goes, “Crab cakes and football. That’s what Maryland does.”

Over the next decade, I believe that we will be talking about Maryland football as a perennial power.

How? Think Oregon. Oregon since the mid 1990’s has become a true football powerhouse in addition to five Pac 8/10/12 Conference titles in basketball.

Ever since Oregon alumnus and Nike founder, Phil Knight, established Nike as the premier sports brand and began to funnel millions of dollars into Oregon athletics with the Knight Labs, Oregon has been a recruiters dream.

Between the state-of-the-art facilities and Nike’s brand identity, Oregon has been able to recruit blue chip talent that has translated into record success.

When I see Maryland, I see a budding Oregon. Maryland is the alma mater of Under Armour founder, Kevin Plank.

According to Forbes as of August 2012, Under Armour is a $10 billion corporation. They actually have gained on Nike in the North American market over the past four years.

Now, comparatively, Nike is a $50 billion corporation. However, Nike earns two-thirds of its revenue overseas, whereas Under Armour earns 95-percent of its revenue in the United States and Canada.

This might not matter to sports fans, but to those in the know, this is a huge deal. Market analysts at Market Watch, are predicting that if Under Armour can increase its global market-share by just 15-percent, you could be looking at an honest competition for Nike.

For the Big Ten, this means big games and big money. There is no secret that Nike and Oregon capitalize on the brand’s recognition when it comes to recruiting.

Under Armour is rapidly becoming the biggest equipment brand in college athletics and professional football. Under Armour has spent millions of dollars establishing athletic camps around North America, including hosting the premier high school football preseason camps.

Under Armour founder Kevin Plank currently sits on the Board of Trustees at the University of Maryland and has already committed millions of dollars to their business and athletic funds.

Between the improved facilities and brand identity, Under Armour is setting Maryland up for similar success to that of Oregon.

And, if things play out the way many market analysts predict, I think the future of the Big Ten Conference rests on Michigan and Maryland.

Bucktown West

The Bucktown neighborhood located on Chicago’s Northwest Side is home to many working professionals that share a love for competitive sports.

Bucktown is located just along highway 290, which is the main artery for reverse commuters that work in the suburbs.

“It can be difficult. I live downtown, I play downtown, but I work in Glen Ellyn. It makes for a long day.” Bucktown resident, Connor Leamy said.

Like Leamy, many Bucktown residents make that daily 20-mile trek along 290 towards the Western Suburbs.

Within eyesight of highway 290, in Glen Ellyn, is a private club called Health Track Sports Wellness. Health Track is situated between numerous office buildings and an off campus Central DuPage Hospital.

Ordinarily, Health Track is filled with local members that live within about five miles from the gym.

Scott Kitun/The Medillian

However, this isn’t the case during the weekday noon-hour.

“For the last 15 years I have come here to HT during my lunch hour to play basketball,” Bucktown resident, Mark Wilson said. “Over the years, we commuters have been dubbed the Bucktown West League.”

For about two hours each day the basketball court becomes an intensely competitive environment, made up of doctors, lawyers and financial analysts.

Add then that many of these guys have played sports competitively since they were in elementary school. The roster of guys includes three All-American football players, two former Major League Baseball players and a host of other collegiate athletes, most of which reside in the Bucktown neighborhood.

“I think it is really funny. I mean, I have been playing here for a few years and see these guys every weekend downtown at bars and stuff. Then I have to see them here too.” Emmet Carrier said.

Carrier, of the 1600 block of North Avenue, actually plays here with his brother Riley, who works in Glen Ellyn, but lives in nearby Wheaton.

“Lunch ball is awesome, man. It is a great midday workout, it allows me to see my brother and it’s tremendous competition.” Riley Carrier said.
The Bucktown West League, as they call it, exists mostly due to commonality.

“I work 70 hours a week and spend probably two hours per day commuting. Most of these guys spend their week like this,” Leamy said. “It’s like we can all relate and there is just this understanding that games will be rough. I guess we are all just wired the same.”

Over the past 15 years, numerous players from the Bucktown West League moved to Glen Ellyn once they began to have families.

“Guys like Brad Rosley, who moved here from Bucktown, keep our group connected,” Riley Carrier said.

Chicago Catholic League rolls into Habetler Bowl Saturday

Coaches at the Catholic League North South Meet Saturday

The Chicago Catholic League has sent more bowlers per conference (12, last season) down state than any other high school league in Chicago and one team in particular, St. Patrick High School, sends more than most.

Heading into Saturday’s Catholic League North South meet at Habetler Bowl in the Jefferson Park neighborhood of Chicago, the St. Patrick Shamrocks are looking to add to their pin-count in conference play.

St. Patrick head coach, Pete Dougherty said, “We did well last season counting on two freshman so I think this year we should be only that much better”.

Having gone to state as a team 5 of the last 8 seasons, the Shamrocks look to continue their winning tradition this season. With sophomore star bowler Dan Silva having opened the season last week by bowling a 248 and 258 the team looks primed to for another run.

The team is currently ranked third in conference.
“We didn’t roll our best game last week but I am confident with our returning team that we will get it going soon”, senior team captain Steve Randazzo said.

And they did, the Shamrock’s stellar play was good enough to win their individual match against St. Rita while bowling a team score of 2,057 pins, an astounding 137-pin advantage over the second highest total in Saturday’s North South meet, Brother Rice High School.

The Shamrocks will have to wait until Tuesday, when conference-scoring results are published, to see if their effort Saturday was enough to move them into first place in conference.

Mike Jorgensen, St. Patrick’s high-bowler Saturday, bowled for an average of 232, which was good enough to medal in this second conference meet of the season.

Also competing in the North South meet is Gordon Tech High School, who comes into Saturday’s meet ranked second overall in the Catholic League.

Last season Gordon Tech finished in fifth place overall in conference. But, behind the play of Ty Tres and Elliott Igunbor, who both enter Saturday’s meet averaging 200 pins per game, Tech looks to be competitive.

Senior Elliott Igunbor said, he has been bowling better than ever the last few weeks and looks forward to a good season that he said will hopefully finish up at the state tournament.

Unfortunately, after a terrific start to the season last week, Gordon Tech had what head coach Joe Hohrein called, “a disappointing meet”.

With a team score of just 1,684 pins, Tech lost their individual match against Mt. Carmel and finished in the middle of Saturday’s field.

Both teams will meet again Tuesday as conference play resumes at 4 p.m. at Habetler Bowl

Shamrocks fall to perfection

The football season came to an end this weekend for Northwest Chicago’s St. Patrick High School Shamrocks, just one week after their first playoff win in eight years.

Fresh off a 41-15 drubbing of Glenbard South, the Shamrocks (7-4) kicked off in Northwest suburban Cary at 1 p.m. Saturday against the Cary-Grove Trojans (11-0) in the second round of the 6A IHSA playoffs.

Before the game Head Coach Dan Galante said, “We were picked to finish seventh or eight this season by most of the local media and we finished third and now we are here playing hard some more.”

But the game did not get off to the start St. Patrick had hoped, with Cary-Grove scoring on it’s first six possessions, including a 75-yard touchdown run by Cary-Grove’s star senior fullback Kyle Norberg (17 carries, 205 yards), on their first possession.

After falling behind 14-0, the Shamrocks struck back with a 41-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Zack Fuller to senior receiver Steve Galiardo, one of his two touchdown receptions.

Cary-Grove pushed the score to 21-7 on the ensuing possession, but the Shamrocks again responded with a touchdown of their own when star junior running back, Jeremy Molina (20 carries, 185 yards) scored his fifteenth touchdown of the season on a handoff at the four-yard line.

Unfortunately, Cary-Grove took over from there, scoring 21 consecutive points and putting the game out of reach for St. Patrick.

“The guys fought hard and showed plenty of the same heart and effort that has characterized this team all season,” St. Patrick Principal Joe Schmidt said.

In the fourth quarter Cary-Grove began pulling its starters and coasted to a 49-21 victory.

The Trojans are now set to play Crystal Lake-Central next week, while the Shamrocks will now be able to reflect on their great season.

“We accomplished a lot this year. We finished third in a conference we weren’t even picked to contend in,” Galante said.

“Eight of our players were named to the all-conference team. It was a great season”

Tip of the week

Golf is a difficult enough game without adding mental pressure to the mix. As former Head Professional of the Village Links of Glen Ellyn, Ed Posh, told me, “I don’t know what a trap is. I looked it up and nowhere in the USGA rules guide is there any mention of such-a-thing. I’ve heard of bunkers, but traps are in a maze.”

When you convince yourself that your wayward shot is buried in a trap, there is no way you will get out and save the par. You have to stop thinking of obstacles on the course as worse than they are. Remember, you are just in the bunker, as if you were in the rough. If you think of it strategically, you can play it strategically.

According to Village Links Assistant Head Golf Professional, Michael Campbell, “you have to focus on the simple things. With a bunker shot, I focus on maintaing my club-head speed as I drive the [club] face through the ball.”

Photo by Scott Kitun